Making the decision to begin freelancing is definitely not one to be taken lightly. However, there are certainly a lot of misconceptions that come with the territory. We’ve taken ten of the most common presumptions and blasted them wide open, for a happy, successful freelancing career.
1 – Freelancing gives you a lot more free time
When you announce that you’ve made the decision to go freelance, you’ll undoubtedly be met with ‘supportive’ soon-to-be-ex colleagues gushing about the fact that ‘at least you won’t have any more early mornings!’.
Sadly, that’s not necessarily the case. Whilst some days you might be able to sneak in an extra half hour in bed, if you want to keep on top of things, you should be working the same office hours as everyone else. This is mainly so that clients can get hold of you, but it also gives you some structure to your day and keeps you in the habit of working 9 to 5.
2 – Being a freelancer makes you loads of money
We’ve yet to meet a freelancer who cashed in during their first few weeks of leaving their office job, so you will probably have to stick at it for a good while before you can afford that second home in the Caribbean.
Whilst some people do charge quite a high hourly rate, the reality is that you’re not working every hour of every day, so it’s a bit of a moot point. There’s also only a certain amount of work/clients that you can service on your own, so it’s important to take it just one step at a time.
3 – Freelancing means you don’t have a boss
You may be glad to get rid of that stuffy CEO who is stifling your creative flow, but just because you’re a freelancer doesn’t mean that you don’t have anyone to report to.
Clients and others who are paying for your time are expecting a return on investment for their cash, so not doing the work you have agreed means that you’ll certainly have someone to answer to.
Not meeting deadlines is frustrating for those who are expecting a finished product, and it will also earn you a less than desirable reputation. Treat those who you are doing work for as if they are your boss, and it should help to keep you on track.
4 – Freelancing is much less stressful
Another regular misconception that a lot of people have is that freelancing is far less stressful than ‘regular’ employment. We hate to break it to you, but this one isn’t true either.
Your schedule hours are a lot more flexible, and you do have a certain amount of freedom, but these do not necessarily a walk in the park make.
Not only do you have to be constantly on the look out for new work, you also have to structure your own time, organise your workload and then find the time to do all that work… by yourself. There’s little delegation in the freelance world!
5 – Being a freelancer means you’re lonely
A life without colleagues isn’t the be all and end all, and freelancing doesn’t necessarily have to be a lonely profession.
Not having the constraints of office life means you can arrange to meet clients and other business contacts for lunch and coffee, getting you out of your homemade office.
Thanks to the wonders of social media, there are thousands of meet-ups around the country, so why not investigating what networking events and meet-ups are going on in your area? It’s a great way to meet new people, make friends and try and snare some new business!
6 – You have to take any work you can get
No-one wants to turn away business, but just because you’re a freelancer doesn’t mean that you have to accept that job for your Aunty Jackie’s sister’s brother’s new plumbing venture.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s lovely when people think you’re worthy enough of supporting their business, but just because you’re not based in a regular office job doesn’t mean that you have to take it.
We all like doing a couple of feel-good jobs for free to help out friends and family, but sticking to your professional network will probably mean more success on the new business side of things.
7 – Anyone can do it
Similar to the assumption that freelancing is easy, a lot of people think that it’s possible for anyone to be a freelancer. However, we’d have to disagree.
You need a variety of skills to be a freelancer, just as you need a variety of skill in any other job. Good time management and organisation skills are key, and you have to be confident in what you do and how well you’re doing it in order to win new business.
Freelancing isn’t just a job that you can fall back on, and if you don’t put in a considerable amount of effort, then it’s unlikely you will succeed.
8 – You don’t have to pay taxes
Getting yourself an accountant is one of the first things you should do when you become a freelancer, as registering as self-employed with HMRC can be confusing to say the least.
You need to take responsibility for both income and tax and National Insurance, which are calculated by reference to your profits as a stand-alone business.
Even beginning to think about tacking taxes by yourself can end up leaving you a bit frazzled, so we’d definitely recommend getting a professional in to help, at least while you’re finding your feet.
9 – Freelancing limits future career opportunities
A number of people worry about life after freelancing, but moving into self-employment doesn’t mean that you have to stay there for the rest of your life.
Being able to be successful as a freelancer shows a lot of skills, many of which will impress a potential future manager. Many freelancers also see job opportunities with people that they’ve worked for on a freelance basis, so often you don’t even have to go through the tedious application stage.
Depending on the length of your freelance career, you should have a number of happy clients who are willing to give you an excellent reference.
10 – Get as many clients as possible on your first day
Don’t worry if you haven’t filled your books on your first day. You need to make sure you’re dedicating time to nurturing your business, as well as finding new clients.
Taking a few hours to make your website look top notch, spending a little bit extra on the design for some business cards that are going to make you really memorable and writing up a business plan are all things that will benefit in the long run, and mean that you can continue to grow your business.